Romania's Tarom is planning to restart long-haul operations.

"We are thinking of course about the Far East, because we are very well positioned for that," chief executive Christian Heinzmann told Flightglobal at the Association of European Airlines (AEA) summit in Antwerp. "China is a big market for us and eventually India because we are in the right direction."

The Bucharest-based carrier only operates short-haul European services and a route to Dubai, having withdrawn from long-haul markets in 2003, and Heinzmann notes that with Romania as a whole lacking any long-haul routes, starting intercontinental services would be "a big advantage". However, direct connections and "good timings" would be crucial, he acknowledges.

Heinzmann says Tarom is evaluating the possible acquisition of long-haul aircraft, including the Airbus A330 and Boeing 787, as part of a wider fleet renewal programme. Flightglobal's Fleets Analyzer database shows the national carrier still has two A310s in service.

On its short-haul network, Tarom "continues to fly to the destinations that are strategically important for us, which are the major European cities", says Heinzmann. The carrier is expanding its presence at Iasi airport, which it is developing into a "sort of secondary hub" in Romania, with links to London, Amsterdam, Istanbul and Munich.

Another priority is to develop Tarom's domestic market "dramatically" in order to offer an alternative to Romania's poor road and rail links, Heinzmann says.

He acknowledges that Bucharest-based rival Blue Air "is doing extremely well" because, as a privately owned carrier, "it can move faster than we are". However, he adds that "we will defend ourselves" and is hopeful that, with a new board having been appointed in March, Tarom will "be more assertive" in its response.

Source: Cirium Dashboard